Emma Spence is being applauded for her bravery and heroism in the wake of her family’s tragically fatal farm accident near Hillsborough in Co Down.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that three members of the Spence family - father Noel and his two sons Graham and Nevin - all died while attempting to rescue the family pet dog from a slurry tank. Emma Spence had climbed into the tank after her father and brothers in an attempt to rescue them when she realized they were in trouble.
Neighbor of the family Edward Poots recounted Saturday’s tragic events. Graham Spence had lowered a ladder into the slurry tank after the pet dog had disappeared in the tank. Graham’s father Noel then followed to save his son, who was then followed by Nevin Spence, who was a member of the Ulster rugby team.
Emma Spence then went in after the three men, and was able to pull her father Noel to the ladder where the helping neighbors attempted to resuscitate him. Emma went back in, only to find her brother Graham laying in 2 to 3 feet of the slurry.
However, during her rescue attempt, Emma Spence became overwhelmed by the odorless fumes in the tank and was pulled to safety by the neighbors who had come running at the calls for help.
The details of Emma Spence’s act of heroism were recounted on Wednesday, the day of the funeral for the three Spence men in Ballynahinch, Co Down.
Poots, a health minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, said, "Emma risked her own life to try and save her father and brothers. Physically I don't know how she managed it because her dad is a big man. With the weight of the slurry and so on, she needed to muster unbelievable strength to get him pulled up.
"And then she went back in again, risking her life a second time. It is maybe some comfort to the family she didn't lose her life. She was incredibly brave."